Indeed, there are also different categories of patent claims that can be used. In general, a distinction can be made between two different categories.
A first general category of patent claims is the “product claim”, which relates to physical entities such as products, devices and apparatuses, but can also include, for example, chemical substances and compositions.
A second general category of patent claims is the “process claim”, which relates to activities, such as methods, processes and uses, as long as some material product is used for effecting such activities. However, there are some exceptions to this which are explicitly excluded from patentability, such as biological processes for the production of plants or animals, and surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic methods for treatment of the human or animal body. Whereas, product claims relating to products for the use in surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic methods are permitted.
It is important to know that claims belonging to different categories can also be used together in the same patent application, as long as these claims relate to the same invention. This is beneficial for broadening the scope of protection of the patent. Independent claims may, for example, be directed to a certain product, a process adapted for manufacturing that product, and the use of that product. Another example are independent claims directed to a certain process, and an apparatus or means specifically designed for carrying out said process.
Yet, another example, are independent claims directed to a certain process for manufacturing a product, and a product obtained by means of said process, as long as this product is physically distinguishable from similar product obtained by other processes. If the latter is not the case, it is good to know that in many countries patent protection for a process for manufacturing a product is extended to products directly obtained by means of that process.
Hence, a well-drafted claim set covering the different possible claim categories relating to your invention is essential for optimising the scope of protecting of your patent.
As always, GEVERS is eager to assist you in this matter. Do not hesitate to contact us!
Johan Aerts – European and Belgian Patent Attorney